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Cardiff Council

Highway Drainage

​​​​​One of our roles as a designated Highway Authority is to ensure Cardiff’s roads are built and maintained to a suitable standard, this includes the maintenance of highway drainage. 

Highway drainage systems are installed to collect surface water run-off to:

  • ​alleviate flooding, 
  • protect the construction of the highway, and 
  • retain a safe surface for vehicle movements.​​

Roads are designed so that wate​r drains away from th​e surface to the edge and is collected by highway drainage systems. The types of drainage systems used depend on where the road is and what has been put in place.

However, as the rivers rise, storm drain outlets may be unable to flow excess surface water from our streets into the rivers if the river levels rise above the drain outlet. This leads to the water ponding on our streets as it is unable to drain away.​

We have a limited stock of sandbags which are used where surface water is causing a serious issue. ​​Residents are advised, if they live in an area liable to flood to procure their own sandbags in advance. We will, as always, do our best to help, but being prepared​​​​​​​​​​​External link opens in a new window will go some way to safeguarding your home and property.

If you are concerned about your property due to rising river levels, please call Floodline on 0345 988 1188, which is a 24 hour service provided by Natural Resources Wales​​​​​​​​​​​External link opens in a new window​​. Information is available on River Flood Warnings, how to protect your property, as well as a free service to receive flood warnings by phone, text or e-mail.

Highway gullies, you may call them drains, are drainage pits covered by an open metal grating, typically located at the edge of the highway, often next to the kerb edge. 

The purpose of a highway gully is to drain rainwater from the highway into a sewerage system (pipe system). 

Once the water has entered the sewerage system it is conveyed to a discharge point, typically a surface water sewer or watercourse. 

We maintain these gullies by operating a system of scheduled and emergency gully cleansing. In times of high leaf fall, we also attempt to keep the roads clear of leaves blocking the gullies. 

There are a number of reasons why gullies can stop working and we are always grateful for help in identifying problem gullies. Autumn is the busiest time of year for our Highways Teams as it is often difficult to keep on top of the leaf fall. During these periods, we look to sweep the roads, including a system of cleansing in areas of particular dense tree cover, but it is often difficult for us to attend sites to clear the gullies. 

Be aware of any highway gullies near your property. Remember that the highway drains are unlikely to be blocked, it is usually a covering of leaves preventing water entering a gully that causes a problem.

Look out for:

  • ​Water that is not draining away or where there is a deep pool of water on the surface of the road for a period of time after the rain has stopped (please remember that gullies should usually have some water in them).
  • Soil and other rubbish is covering the grating.
  • Metal grates and broken or badly sunken.

Report a problem

You can help by reporting any problems and by regularly sweeping away leaves that have settled on the metal gully grating. This simple action can help prevent water ponding on the road and allow it to drain away quickly, improving traffic flow.
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If you see a problem on the road or pavement that is likely to cause a serious accident or injury please call 029 2087 2087 to speak to our Emergency team.

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